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Precious Metal the Final Basis. 39
held that the general demonetization of silver, and the great reduction of its purchasing power, or, in other words, the appreciation of gold, had not caused the general decline in values, has since publicly declared, in 1893, that further study has convinced him that he was in error on this point when he signed the report five years before.1
I do not object to that reduction in values which comes from science, art, invention, and discovery, but I do object to the unjust enhancement of the value of gold caused by making it the sole money metal and the sole final basis of currency.
The only final basis of all sound currency is precious metal. For centuries the money of the world has been in total value about half gold and half silver. If this final basis be now limited to gold alone, then the final basis is diminished by about one half. Money may then be plenty in banks because enterprise fears to use it, and trade languishes and laborers are unemployed.
1 See Appendix, page 104.
Even where only one of the precious metals has been in actual general use as money, the fact that both were legally available has been the important fact.
In your issue of March 2 2d you deprecate the present revival of the silver question in the East, as giving encouragement to "silver lunatics at the South and West." 1 But so long as our Government is based on popular suffrage, free and full discussion of this question is as necessary as it is inevitable.
If there had been more thorough, fair, and impartial discussion of the silver problem, the absurd Sherman act would never have been enacted, and instead of it I think we might have had a law for the use of "gold and silver together at ratios always based on their relative market values."
I do not want dishonest currency, nor have I any favorable regard for anarchy; but, in company with many more competent students of economics, abroad and here, I hold that an honest and practica
1 See page 13.
Ti^e Discussion Timely and Important. 41
ble way can be found to permanently restore silver to its historic1 and just position as a money metal, and that this will be of inestimable benefit to the world, and especially to our country.
Therefore, with all becoming trepidation, standing, as I feel I am, face to face with that greatest of American monometallists, the distinguished author of the World's Fair address on "The Gold Standard," I venture the opinion that the full and temperate discussion of the silver question in the press is most timely and important, and that many who are not monometallists are neither dishonest persons nor lunatics.
Anson Phelps Stokes. New York, April 4, 1894. 1 See Appendix, page 80.